Rianna seals semi spot

Dean Goodison

Rianna Jarrett headed Wexford Youths into the semi-final of the Women's National League Cup with seven minutes remaining in windy Jackson Park against UCD Waves on Sunday.

Wexford Youths 1 UCD Waves 1

With time ticking away, and clearcut chances few and far between, Emma Hansberry controlled Ciara Rossiter's throw on her chest, swivelled and hooked a cross into the danger area that Jarrett powered past Monika McGuirk to rubber-stamp a last four spot for her side.

It was a goal for perseverance and strength of character in blustery conditions that made it difficult for both sides to settle into a rhythm.

While the weather made the game tough for both, it certainly suited a home side that set up to contain and hit on the counter-attack.

Youths weren't that impressive in their 4-2 victory over the same opposition two weeks earlier, and manager Will Doyle was quoted as saying as much.

It's more difficult to draw conclusions from this showing, just Youths' second draw of the season inside 90 minutes.

What is for certain is that UCD made the brighter start. Inside 38 seconds they were ahead when the excellent Julie Ann Russell made room for a cross from the right.

Hesitancy in the Wexford defence allowed Niamh Prior possession in the penalty area and she fired low past Tamara Furlong.

If Jessica Gleeson was a little caught on her toes for the goal, she thoroughly made up for it thereafter.

The Youths defender was the stand-out performer for the rest of the game and marshalled a defence that kept the Waves danger woman, O'Gorman, pretty much in check.

UCD, playing with the wind, conceded the Youths third of the field and allowed the back three to pass around comfortably untouched. However, accurate forward balls into the wind proved difficult in a tight midfield and Wexford had limited opportunities in the first-half.

Doyle went back to two up front in Claire O'Riordan and Jarrett but the midfield struggled to give them the service they could thrive on. The best passing move of the half saw Edel Kennedy, Jarrett and Kylie Murphy combine to release Aisling Frawley on the right but she was halted by an offside flag.

Hansberry whipped in a cross that Jarrett strained to reach but just failed in the 26th minute, while Ciara Rossiter drilled a long-range free wide. UCD came closer to adding to their lead goal when Russell got O'Gorman away but Furlong made a smart save.

Just before the break, O'Gorman pinged a long-range free-kick that rattled the Youths crossbar and went over.

It came from a foul on Caroline Thorpe that Ruth Fahy was booked for, the first of four yellow cards from a referee that came close to unnecessarily molly-coddling the players, dishing out harsh bookings and soft frees.

Trailing 1-0 at the break, Youths immediately looked to take advantage of the breeze, pressing high up the field.

They tipped off and shot from halfway but it seemed like a missed opportunity to test a shaky goalkeeper as Hansberry's effort bounced into the arms of McGuirk when a direct shot without the tip-off would have been easier to execute in the conditions.

UCD had a couple of early half chances to edge further ahead when Russell had a shot saved and Emily Cahill nodded over from an O'Gorman cross. Youths' first great opportunity arrived in the 55th minute when Jarrett headed back to O'Riordan who laid off to Kylie Murphy, but the Wexford captain blazed over.

Doyle introduced Linda Douglas in the 58th minute, dropping Rossiter back into the three and it had the desired effect of opening up the game a bit. Youths started to go back to front even more and began winning second balls.

Frawley didn't quite connect cleanly when she got in on the left, allowing McGuirk to save, while a couple of excellent corners from Hansberry just missed out on getting telling touches. With the pressure mounting but not exactly incessant, Hansberry crossed for Jarrett to power in with seven minutes left.

Youths pressed on after the goal; corners came in and were scrambled away, a piledriver from Hansberry was just kept out by McGuirk, and Rossiter flashed wide, but the draw was enough to give Wexford safe passage to the semi-finals.

The league cup will be on the back-burner now for a while as Youths travel to Buckley Park to face Kilkenny on Saturday (2 p.m.) in the league, the last game for two weeks because of an international break.

Wexford Youths: Tamara Furlong; Nicola Sinnott, Jessica Gleeson, Ruth Fahy; Aisling Frawley, Emma Hansberry, Edel Kennedy, Kylie Murphy (capt.), Ciara Rossiter; Rianna Jarrett, Claire O'Riordan. Subs. - Linda Douglas for Fahy (58), Becky Cassin for Kennedy (78), also Orlaith Conlon, Meghan Whitty, Shauna Wall, Rachel Hutchinson, Aoibhín Webb.

UCD Waves: Monika McGuirk; Jetta Berrell, Ali Brien, Emily Cahill, Chloe Muskati; Orlagh Nolan, Karen Duggan; Julie Ann Russell, Caroline Thorpe, Niamh Prior; Aine O'Gorman (capt.). Subs. (not used) - Susan Hackett, Sarah Clune, Eleanor Ryan-Doyle, Catherine Cronin.

Referee: Natasha Valentini.

Wexford People

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